Smoke on Highway 1 on September 9, 2023. Photo: Helen Barrieau
Drivers breaking the speed limit on NWT highways may force firefighters to abandon critical work on safety grounds, the territory’s wildfire agency says.
“We are having SEVERE problems with speeders in zones where firefighters are working, and drivers ignoring signage urging caution,” NWT Fire spokesperson Mike Westwick said by email on Saturday afternoon.
“If the negligence continues, we may need to pull firefighters out of the area to protect their safety.”
Along Highway 1, Westwick wrote, “firefighters are active and working to protect things people care about.”
RCMP had already issued one warning this week about the level of speeding taking place on highways as people drive home to Yellowknife, where an evacuation order lifted on Wednesday.
Separately, multiple residents driving home to Yellowknife wrote to Cabin Radio to complain of speeding vehicles around them.
“An RCMP presence on the road this evening between Fort Providence and Yellowknife would have been appreciated, as there was a lot of dangerous driving at very high speeds between 6pm and 8pm, which was scary at times,” one person wrote late on Friday.
“It was a bit concerning,” another resident wrote of their drive through northern Alberta, saying they had driven with their cruise control set at the speed limit but more than a third of vehicles passing them had NWT plates. Some, the resident wrote, “passed me as if I were going at 20 km/h.”
Westwick wrote: “We know those coming back to the capital are eager to get home. But please – be patient, be cautious, and be careful.
“If you aren’t, it may mean firefighting efforts are paused in an active fire area – which no one wants – or firefighters getting hurt or killed.”